Now I am getting your attention with just the title of this article because anything that discusses politics and elections is a hot trigger that will get on your nerves. I am aware that elections and politics are messy and divisive topics to discuss, which could ruin one’s day, but this is not about that. It is not about who is better or not. And I know we seldom get unbiased opinions about politics without some hidden agenda, including this one. I just want to share my views, hoping it will help those who are yet to decide.
Yes, the election is fast approaching, and it is getting hard to avoid seeing the faces of politicians plastered on oversize billboards around the city. I reside in the north district of Cebu City, and those revolting faces indiscriminately put up along the road will make you cringe in disgust. And some even resorted to cheap gimmicks by including a contest on their tarpaulin banners as a cover for their premature campaigning tactics. Others are taking advantage of the pandemic and putting it on their unwelcome pollution-causing campaign posters. It is one of the reasons I wrote this.
With the coming election, expect the battle to be fought on social media sites, and expect more meaningless election-related #hashtags from out-of-tune politicians. So brace for a chaotic political battleground in cyberspace filled with hate and mistrust. Since it is through social media that most of us get information, it is getting difficult to know the real deal. With the proliferation of fake news and paid internet trolls, most of us are overwhelmed by all of the falsehood, propaganda, and deception we hear from everywhere. We don’t know where to start researching “good” politicians, if there are any.
In our current political system, electing someone is like picking something out of a garbage bin. Even though what you pick may not smell as obnoxious as the rest, it’s still trash. Yet, we are all aware of the trash we are voting for, but the choice is as limited as it may seem.
We all looked for someone who was a disruptor, a breakthrough from traditional politics. And we thought we had found and elected one who would make a change, but the state of Philippine politics remained the same. It is just the same group of people steering the wheel—the old and rooted traditional politicians and their dynasties. These “trapos” failed us, and yet we kept on electing them, expecting something good to happen. But again, what choice do we have?
There are qualities we look up to in a candidate, so kindly allow me to share mine with you. It is quite a list, but I think we deserve the best for our hard-earned taxes. They are: 1) motivated and capable; 2) educated with a proven track record; 3) level-headed and affable; 4) versatile and vigilant of the ever-changing needs of the people he serves; 5) impartial in dealing with pressing issues; and 6) nurturing of ideas and innovation.
A candidate’s platform of governance must include the following programs and components: 1) law and maintenance of peace and order; 2) effective economic policies for local businesses to thrive; 3) gainful employment programs for the jobless; 4) affordable and accessible health care; 5) sensible environment protection policies; 6) progressive and proactive education programs; and 7) inclusive infrastructure and utility development.
But my list above wouldn’t matter if we are offered the same set of “trapos” and recycled politicians vying for elected positions. We need something new with the zest and energy of youth and the will to lead.
In elections, we think we are voting for the real candidates that we want. But there are people I’ve encountered who legitimately like and vote for any of the candidates presented to them and have zero understanding of how the government works. They just like the person because of the way they talk or what they look like, while having no clue what policies the person actually supports. The politicians’ presence on TV is enough to convince them. Most people lean more towards the one they have the most similarities with, but they don’t agree with everything they say. They tend to vote for someone they can identify with the most. It is the very voters’ behavior that politicians will take advantage of. Once elected, they will sell the people out for personal interest.
How do you choose a candidate, then? If we want to be methodological, we could do some research about each candidate. We can stop listening to their blatant lies and rhetoric. We could go straight to their record. Maybe even check out some solid, reputable sources, some that aren’t slanted or biased, or we could go even further and check out political sources from each side of the aisle.
We can even make a comparison and maybe even make a pros and cons list to figure out what is important. But first, we need to ask ourselves where we stand on the important issues and start from there. Ignore the administration party and/or the opposition, and don’t be one of those people who will vote for whoever has a color or political party affiliated with their name. Vote for whichever candidate aligns the closest with our beliefs and aspirations. Also, don’t rule out independent candidates. We are not wasting our vote if it means something to us.
We could continue our quest for knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of candidates’ platforms by reading pertinent publications and checking the politician’s policymaking records. We need to check the relevant facts before we dive into attempting to understand the chaos that is politics. It is easier said than done, but we have to try. After all, the future of our country is at stake.
We dream of a society where elected officials live up to their promises. We dream of a political leader who is capable of making reasonable decisions, determined to work for the welfare of his or her constituents, has the resolve to manage and rectify issues, and, most importantly, stands up for what is right.
We deserve better, and there is hope. I believe we have a better choice. We just have to look beyond the chatter of the written words. To close this, let me join the hashtag bandwagon with #hello2022 and hope for the best. Good luck to us all!